I didn’t mean to write two posts in a row about the role of setting in certain anime—it just kind of turned out that way. In the spotlight is a somewhat broader selection of shows than I’m normally accustomed to writing about, as I try my best to encapsulate the general character of the anime made by studio P.A. Works. in a single column. Surprisingly perhaps, I think I wound up having more of a solid case than even I expected at the beginning of my writing. You guys will have to let me know what you think!
9 thoughts on “Aniwords – The Small Worlds of the Anime of P.A. Works”
PA Works is one of those studios that I like more than I actually their shows, and I think it’s to a huge extent to precisely the thing you mention in your article. Almost all there shows are intricately tied up with their setting; they couldn’t play anywhere else without changing their identity. I don’t think Another is an exception; it’s set in a coastal town, and I felt that was fairly important to the whole shows feel. The most striking exception I can think of is Canaan, which has some sort of James-Bond feel when it comes to setting; they’re always moving around.
This is my enjoyment tier system for PA Works shows:
Unconditional love tier:
[Kuromukuro looks like it’s going here]
Flawed, but still enjoyable:
Red Data Girl
Nagi no Asukara
I’ve heard good things about Koitabi: True Tours Nanto, which is an excellent example for the point you’re trying to make, because the show’s explicitly meant to advertise the town of Nanto. (IIRC, the city’s mayor announced the shorts.)
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I haven’t seen another, so that part was mostly triangulated from the impressions I got from sampling the show and talking with people who had seen it. I’m not sure it quite fits into the same category of thing I’m thinking of, but as I haven’t actually seen it… maybe I overreached. ^_^”
Glasslip may someday be what I consider the studio’s masterpiece, but I’d love for them to really take this predisposition and leverage it into something that’s a perfect expression of the idea. I dunno if you read the article I linked in the post, but apparently the studio was founded with the idea of decreasing distance between producers and creative staff and lower level workers, which I think is really cool.
I may try out Koitabi sometime! I always like exploring little projects like that.
It’s not really important whether you’re right or wrong about Another. It’s certainly not important enough to subject yourself to this show. (Especially, since I don’t think you like this sort of horror in the first place.) I’m also not quite sure I completely understand the category you’re trying to establish here, but if it’s about setting intimacy with hints of a bigger outside world Another definitely fits. I mean that’s the entire point of small-town horror like Another (and not only in anime). Maybe I’m missing something?
I can only find two links in your article, one to your Glasslip blogpost (which I’ve read back then), and one to the PA Works english twitter account. I did know about their founding hisotry. I find PA Works very likable. I buy what I can of their shows (except for shows I didn’t enjoy).
Here’s the article I mentioned, although if you’re already familiar with the studio’s history you may already know all this.
And yeah, that’s not exactly the idea I was driving towards. It was more about perceptions of reality and how the settings the studio chooses reflects those for its characters.
Thanks for the link. I knew most of that, but I never realised that the city they advertise in Koitabi is actually their city of residence. That’s so cool!
Among other things, reading the post made me realize how much of a blind spot P.A. Works is for me, as the only show I’ve actually watched to completion out of their library is Shirobako. I definitely need to rectify that at some point.
But more on the subject of the post itself, I was reminded of this video regarding P.A. Works as a company. While it doesn’t discus the exact same points, the impression it gives of the studio seems very much in keeping with your reading. Kenji Horikawa is characterized in the video as a producer and studio executive who has a very hands-on and personal approach to leading, and is very focused on fostering a small, personal community within the studio and a connection with the city it resides in (Nanto). With that kind of leadership guiding them, the fact that many of their shows take place in “small worlds” suddenly makes a lot of sense.
“Among other things, reading the post made me realize how much of a blind spot P.A. Works is for me, as the only show I’ve actually watched to completion out of their library is Shirobako. I definitely need to rectify that at some point.”
LOL. I could have written that word-for-word, except replace “Shirobako” with “Angel Beats.” I thought I’d seen more than that, probably because so much of their catalog has at least been on my radar, but turns out not. Shirobako’s been on my PTW list for over a year, I started but still haven’t finished Charlotte, was going to watch Haruchika until it got Funi’ed, and several other of their shows have at least sparked my curiosity at one time or another (NagiAsu, True Tears, Another, and even Glasslip after Bless’ passionate defense of it).
Cool video! Thanks for sharing!
Both the shows I use as examples in the article I recommend, although The Eccentric Family certainly has more of a traditional appeal than Glasslip.
Hmm…I certainly understand your argument that many of PA Works’s shows are set in “small worlds” that “represent the entire reality for characters”.
I would like to extend this argument to a vast majority of character-driven stories. I think that in most character-driven stories, the immediate world that the character inhabits represent the entire reality for them.
“Small” is a fluid definition. A character’s reality is necessarily limited to the world he knows: be it Miyamori’s world of the Anime Industry, or Oreki and friends’ world of high school (in fact, most anime treat high school as its own shut-off world), or Ame and Yuki’s wilderness. And since most stories aren’t epics that chronicle the rise and fall of civilizations, most of the stories’ settings can be called “small worlds”.
Not to say this is a bad thing. Setting stories in “small worlds” allows for more focused writing when it comes to conflicts. It’s also a necessity when you’re writing stories that involve characters maturing by expanding their horizons.